1914 Christmas Truce

Perhaps you have heard the moving story of the famous “Christmas Truce” of World War I, which took place on the Western Front 100 years ago this week?

New Zealand troops were not involved in the “Christmas Truce” as they did not arrive in Europe until 1916, after first taking part in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. However, a first-person account, recalling the extraordinary events of Christmas 1914 is held in the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection. In this recording an unidentified Englishman remembers how his company of the Bedfordshire Regiment saw the twinkling of lights from the German trenches and heard carols being sung, before venturing out to join the enemy in no-man’s land.

Click below to listen:

[Archival audio from the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz]

 

The speaker is probably Charles Herbert Brewer, who in 1914 was a 19-year-old lieutenant with the Bedfordshires, and later became a producer with the BBC. He worked for many years on the “Scrapbook” series of programmes, in which the historic events of different years were recalled by those who were there. This recording may originally have been produced for “Scrapbook 1914”, which was recorded in 1957.

We invite you to reflect on this recording and hope that you find plenty of goodwill in your own lives this festive session.

- Season’s Greetings from all of us at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

 

Intriguing Audio Mystery

Our Digital Transfer Operator Sandy Ditchburn came across an enigmatic audio recording this week.

Sandy and the rest of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision sound archivists have been working on a project to digitise our valuable audio heritage. One of the discs she came across in her digitisation work was a mysterious one, with minimal descriptive labelling, containing this recording:

[Archival audio from the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz]
The mystery disc.
The mystery disc.

One of our preservationists suggested that it may have come from the Pitcairn Islands. Or is this avant-garde band?

Can you help us solve the mystery? If you can shed any light on this recording, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact news@ngataonga.org.nz

This disc is part of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision D-Series, which is an assortment of over 10,000 audio disc recordings spanning 1935-1958. Amongst the recordings in the D-Series are wartime radio newsreels, election addresses, current events programmes, and numerous recordings of music by New Zealand composers, including early broadcasts by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

 

Digitally Future-proofing Aotearoa’s Stories

I really believe the digital era increases the possibilities for us to connect our material to current and future generations.”

-Richard Falkner, Moving Image Conservator, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Falkner with the ARRISCAN.
Falkner with the ARRISCAN.

This year, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision became caretaker of a powerful piece of film restoration technology. A partnership with the New Zealand Film Commission and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage facilitated the arrival of the ARRISCAN, all the way from ARRI Motion Picture Company in Germany.

The ARRISCAN is the industry standard 16 and 35mm film scanner. In the past, its primary use was in post-production facilities to scan film negative to be edited and manipulated in an intermediate digital process, eventually being printed back out onto film negative for copying and distribution. Now considered the creme-de-la-creme for film digitisation, the ARRISCAN has a significant role to play in the protection of archival moving image footage and in turn, promises generational access to the stories this footage holds.

Screencaptured images showing ITV’s ‘Poirot’ (16mm, 1989)  before and after ARRISCAN treatment. <br />  Read the full article on POIROT's restoration on <a title="ARRI Group" href="http://www.arri.de/DE/news/news/little-grey-cells/">ARRI's website</a>, which also lays out the tech-specs. <br />  <i> ‘The development of the ARRISCAN film scanner enables high-resolution, high-dynamic range, pin-registered film scanning for use in the digital intermediate process.” Representing the first step in transferring film images into the digital realm, the ARRISCAN enables practically limitless creative possibilities in the DI. It utilises a specially designed CMOS area sensor mounted on a micro-positioning platform and a custom LED light source.'</i>
Screencaptured images showing ITV’s Poirot (16mm, 1989)  before and after ARRISCAN treatment.
Read the full article on POIROT’s restoration on ARRI’s website.
“The development of the ARRISCAN film scanner enables high-resolution, high-dynamic range, pin-registered film scanning for use in the digital intermediate process.” Representing the first step in transferring film images into the digital realm, the ARRISCAN enables practically limitless creative possibilities in the DI. It utilises a specially designed CMOS area sensor mounted on a micro-positioning platform and a custom LED light source.”

The significance of these tech-specs will be lost on laymen (e.g. yours truly), but clearly this beast has some pretty grunty technical ability. The moving image conservation team found that out first hand in February, when they went to Singapore for a crash course on what these kinds of incredible machines are capable of.

So let’s get real – what does the ARRISCAN mean for the moving image collection at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision? Continue reading

“Hello Children” – Broadcasts to the British Child Evacuees of World War II

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Co-ordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Evacuees to New Zealand, 1940. (The National Archives UK DO 131/15
)
Evacuees to New Zealand, 1940.
(The National Archives UK DO 131/15
)

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Radio Collection contains hundreds of recordings made during World War II. The best known are the many discs recorded by the staff of the National Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit, who travelled with New Zealand forces. From North Africa, Italy and through the Pacific… the mobile unit was there, recording interviews, messages home and special programmes, such as the much-loved concerts by members of the Māori Battalion.

Back home in New Zealand, the National Broadcasting Service was monitoring the shortwave radio broadcasts from overseas. A 24-hour “listening watch” was maintained in the control room of station 2YA in Wellington, staffed by a broadcasting technician and equipped with disc recorders (tape recording technology would only arrive in the 1950s.)

Basil Clarke on listening watch at 2YA during World War II, recording an in-coming broadcast.    (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection)
Basil Clarke records an incoming broadcast while on listening watch.
(Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection)

Anything of interest could be immediately recorded on disc for local re-broadcast. Many of these recordings survive in our collection. Often they are news bulletins, telling the world of historic events such as the fall of Singapore or the Battle of Arnhem. But these recordings also captured poignant personal communications and stories of the war-time experience, such as these two excerpts of a bittersweet little programme called “Hello Children”:

[Archival audio from the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz]

 

“Hello Children” was aimed at the 3,000-odd British children who had been evacuated overseas at the start of the war. The two episodes we’ve shared above were transmitted in the BBC’s Pacific Service to New Zealand on the 22nd of February and 6th of May 1942.

When France fell to the Nazis in May 1940 and the Allies were evacuated from Dunkirk, fears of a German invasion became very real to Britons. Wealthier families were able to pay to send their children to live with overseas friends and family members. American companies such as Kodak and Ford set up schemes to evacuate the children of their British employees to the United States. The public soon demanded that overseas evacuation to be made available to families from all walks of life. In response, the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) scheme was established by the British government in June 1940. Continue reading

“Thirty” Opens in Auckland

 - By Paula Booker (Programme Developer, Auckland)

This Monday night saw a well attended launch for our new Auckland exhibition, Thirty, based on the exhibition curated by Gareth Watkins for Wellington. Our small Auckland team was happily joined by a great turn out from organisations with an interest in raising awareness of HIV AIDS, a number of HIV positive individuals, plus educators and advocates, friends, and many who shared sad personal stories of love and loss through HIV AIDS were in attendance.

Paula introduces the Thirty exhibition.
Introducing the Thirty exhibition.

The Auckland manifestation of Thirty includes an expanded segment on women and HIV, which complements and contrasts with the original exhibition materials. Over recent months I have been working with organisations that have produced material directly addressing women’s experiences of HIV AIDS to acquisition this content into the collection, where I am glad it will be preserved for future researchers. This interesting experience of working with content producers and advocates highlighted to me that many producers of moving images are still unaware of the archive’s role in preserving their work for future research and viewing opportunities!

Paula thanks Michael Bancroft, New Zealand AIDS Quilt kaitiaki, for the loan of the quilts.
In this image I am thanking Michael Bancroft, New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt kaitiaki, for the loan of the quilts.

Continue reading

New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 Collection

The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, recorded by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service’s Mobile Unit, was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand Register of Documentary Heritage at a ceremony in Christchurch yesterday. A number of our Christchurch-based staff were excited to be there for the festivities.

Karen Neill (Head of Partnerships, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) speaks at the ceremony for the inscription.
Karen Neill (Head of Partnerships, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) speaks at the ceremony for the inscription. [Ceremony images by Marie O'Connell]

The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection is a unique assemblage of broadcast oral histories recorded by the Mobile Unit around regional New Zealand after World War II. The recordings include accounts of New Zealand life as far back as the 1850s. The collection is now cared for by our sound archiving team in Christchurch.

Along with the The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, A Korao no New Zealand (or The New Zealander’s first book, held at the Auckland Museum), and Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s Church Missionary Society Records (1808 - c.1900, held at the Hocken Library) were at listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register.
Along with the The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, A Korao no New Zealand (or The New Zealander’s first book, held at the Auckland Museum), and Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s Church Missionary Society Records (1808 – c.1900, held at the Hocken Library) were at listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register. In this photo representatives from the three organisations receive their awards. The central figure is Sir Tipene O’Regan.

Sir Tipene O’Regan, chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board, was guest speaker at the inscription ceremony. He explained how the Mobile Unit recordings, such as those made in 1948 of the Karitane Māori choir, evoke powerful memories of whānau and iwi connections.

Presentation on the New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection at the inscription ceremony.
Presentation on the New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection at the inscription ceremony.

Among other memories recalled in the recordings are: the Taranaki Wars, the early days of the frozen meat trade, the first thistle and first rabbits seen in Otago, the Chinese miners’ use of opium, the first bicycle – which frightened horses – and the coming of electric power. Continue reading